E-mails as freeways

In “Too Much Traffic: Using Email and Driving in Los Angeles”, Mike compares e-mail and freeways:

As time progressed and we made more humans and sold them more cars the highways got clogged. What once was a wonderful experience became stressful and complicated. A tragedy of the commons. […] The freeway system reminds of email. A once terrific tool that we can’t live without but is now entirely a burden.

He goes on to suggest alternatives to e-mail that are more appropriate based on the context.

Context is key.

The interstate highway system wasn’t meant to be a way to “quickly cut across the city.” It was meant to facilitate travel long distances. Hense, interstate, not intrastate.

So people cutting across the city are using the highways in the wrong context, just like people sometimes use e-mail in the wrong context. The solution is not, as Mike suggests, to refuse to use e-mail, but to put it in the right context.

* Disclosures: Mike is my brother, and I am a shareholder. Also, I have an e-mail mailing list.